With two matches gone, Aston Villa and Crystal Palace are level on 3 points. Ahead of Saturday's trip to Selhurst Park, Jay from The Eagles Beak was kind enough to join us to discuss Palace's start, transfers, and Alan Pardew.
What's your assessment after the first two matches of the season? Are you happy with the start?
TEB: I think like many Palace fans I am happy that we got off to an opening day win followed up by a narrow defeat to Arsenal. I think that even in defeat we can be happy with the performance because we competed and almost got something out of the game. I am sure we are not alone in thinking that games against the top four sides are pretty much 'freebies'.
Palace brought in a handful of new faces over the summer: Alex McCarthy from QPR, Yohan Cabaye from PSG, Connor Wickham from Sunderland and Patrick Bamford from Chelsea. How have they settled in with the club?
TEB: After the Arsenal game I will say very well. Other than Bamford perhaps that has not really seen much action but his time will come. McCarthy in goal was a surprise starter in the absence of the injured Speroni as Hennessey spent last season as his back up but the former QPR keeper has done well. As for Cabaye, he just that touch of class that most clubs of our stature cry out for. He scored on his debut and had a good game at the weekend. Wickham made his full debut against Arsenal and played the lone striker role well, unlucky not to score in fact. All in all, very happy with our business this summer.
Do you anticipate Palace being active in the last few weeks of the transfer market?
TEB: Everyone thinks that we are a defender short but for me, we do have cover at the moment. I have a feeling that we may well have done all the business in terms of arrivals but I expect a couple of players leaving. It has to happen as we cannot keep all the players happy. At least one striker will go, who that will be I really do not know. Favourite at the moment is Dwight Gayle as he simply does not fit in our style of play at the moment which is a real shame.
Alan Pardew took the reigns of a struggling Palace team and led the Eagles to a 10th place finish. What's the goal for Palace this season? Match last year's finish? Push on to Europe?
TEB: Good question and it is something that I have thought about a lot this summer. I think the signings that we have made is a real sign of what the club and owners as a whole want to achieve. There is no kidding ourselves, the magical 40 point barrier is the first aim but some are talking about Europe. For me, another top ten finish would be a success.
Who's the one Villa player Palace should be most worried about on Saturday?
TEB: Having been linked with your new striker Rudy Gestede a lot in the last 18 months or so I would have to say him. It is the kind of thing that happens to Palace, even former players seem to score against us without mentioning those that we have been linked with. It seems to just happen!
After Saturday, Palace play 3 of last year's top 5 (Chelsea away, Man City at home, and Spurs away). Does that put a little more pressure on Palace to pick up points against Villa?
TEB: Yes, perhaps but I think more importantly, we owe you one from last season as that was a terrible defeat for us even though in hindsight the season worked out just fine. An uncharacteristic error from our usually reliable centre back Scott Dann let in Benteke who still had plenty to do. That game still haunts me. But back to the question, I really feel we have enough about out team not to be too worried about the top sides but I really do not class Spurs as a top side at the moment. They are a team Palace should be striving to compete with in the next bracket of clubs.
Bonus Question: The last time Alan Pardew faced Aston Villa was with Newcastle in a supremely boring 0-0 draw, the game that gave us whatever the hell this was. I don't even have a question, actually. I just can't stop watching.
TEB: Since Pardew came to Palace the difference has been noticeable. We play the ball with confidence, much more attacking and not just direct, but with sense, thought and ability. That is what got us a top ten finish last season and I really do not see this game being a 0-0 draw. I think we only had one goalless draw last season, at home to Burnley courtesy of a last minute penalty save by Speroni. We will score goals but likely concede as well.
Massive thanks once again to Jay for taking the time to answer our questions! Be sure to head over to The Eagles Beak, where I attempted to answer some questions about Villa without being overly sarcastic and pessimistic.